A 27-year old British citizen had appeared before a local court because of allegations that he had used Bitcoin to send money to help ISIS members escape Syrian prison camps. The man, Hisham Chaudhary, has reportedly been a member of the Islamic State for over four years.
Terrorist Prison Breaks Funded By Bitcoin
According to the Dailymail coverage, Chaudhary has been an accepted member of the Islamic State since early 2016 – an infamous terrorist organization banned under UK law since 2014.
Some of his responsibilities within the group included gathering and transferring funds abroad to assist captured ISIS militants to escape from prison camps in northern Syria, controlled by the Kurds. Chaudhary’s preferable currency was Bitcoin. He acquired and sent an undisclosed amount of BTC to facilitate the transactions and remain hidden from authorities.
The charges against the 27-year-old also include compiling and disseminating a terrorist publication called The Wholesome Fruit In The Virtues And Etiquettes Of Jihad last year.
In total, Chaudhary faces seven charges. Four of them are against the terrorist publication, one for his association with the organization, and two counts of entering a funding arrangement. However, he hadn’t plea to the charges during his video appearance at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Crypto Connections With Terrorist Group Rise
Bitcoin’s involvement with terrorist organizations has been spiking in the past few months. Reports surfaced in early August that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) had seized over 300 cryptocurrency accounts linked or operated by three notorious groups – al-Qaeda, Hamas, and again – ISIS.
US law enforcement agencies followed the funds to the accounts on the Bitcoin blockchain, as everything is recorded on the network. They saw millions of dollars worth of transfers from fundraising campaigns and anonymous donation ending in the wallets.
Acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin commented that “these individuals believe they operated anonymously in the digital space, but we have the skill and resolve to find, fix, and prosecute these actors under the full extent of the law.”
Additionally, French authorities arrested 29 people allegedly operating a sophisticated network of funding jihadists and al-Qaeda members with digital assets. The police found evidence that the accused purchased cryptocurrency coupons in France. They transferred the details by secure messaging to jihadists in Syria, who retrieved the funds through digital asset platforms.